- to put into storage or reserve; inactivate.
- inactive; unused; stored away: a mothball fleet.
- in mothballs,
- in disuse or in storage, especially with reference to standby equipment.
- (of ideas) dismissed as unworthy of further deliberation.
Origin of mothball
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for mothballs
We rented the house, put our belongings in mothballs, and left on February 20.Life After AIPAC's False Dichotomies
September 4, 2013
He smelled faintly of mothballs and looked very respectable.Sugar Plum
No more, no more will robins nest within their lilac shade, for they are folded now and pressed, and with the mothballs laid.Uncle Walt [Walt Mason]
The house was over-warm, and there was a musty smell of over-aged furniture, old leather, and the pungence of mothballs.The Fourth R
George Oliver Smith
- Also called: camphor ball a small ball of camphor or naphthalene used to repel clothes moths in stored clothing, blankets, etc
- put in mothballs to postpone work on (a project, activity, etc)
- to prepare (a ship, aircraft, etc) for a long period of storage by sealing all openings with plastic to prevent corrosion
- to take (a factory, plant, etc) out of operation but maintain it so that it can be used in the future
- to postpone work on (a project, activity, etc)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for mothballs
1902 in a literal sense (to store away with mothballs), from mothball (n.); figurative sense from 1901.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Idioms and Phrases with mothballs
see put in mothballs.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.